This past week, world-renowned poet, award-winning author, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, died at the age of 86. Over a span of five decades, she wrote seven autobiographies, three essay books, and many other books of poetry, including plays and movies. She is perhaps best known for her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was the first non-fiction best-seller by an African-American woman. Her poem “On the Pulse of Morning”, which she recited at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, was also published, and sold over 1 million copies. Maya Angelou received numerous awards including three Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize nomination, the National Medal of Arts, the Lincoln Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She was an active member of the Civil Rights Movement, and she worked with both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. In 1960, she was named the Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Dr. King was assassinated on her fortieth birthday. Despite never attending college, Angelou received over 50 honorary degrees and was the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.
Mrs. Angelou lived during some of the most tumultuous days America has ever seen. The odds were firmly stacked against her success both as an African-American and as a woman. But, she faced her challenges courageously and lived a full life that was a blessing to her nation and to the world. Maya Angelou said, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” She also said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
How did Maya Angelou gain the courage to live her life in a way that mattered to so many people? Here is what she said in an interview with The Times-Picayune:
It’s a wonderful thing to know that there is something greater than I am, and that is God…
When I found that I knew not only that there was God but that I was a child of God, when I understood that, when I comprehended that, more than that, when I internalized that, ingested that, I became courageous.
I dared to do anything that was a good thing.
When I was asked to do something good, I often say yes, I’ll try, yes, I’ll do my best. And part of that is believing, if God loves me, if God made everything from leaves to seals and oak trees, then what is it I can’t do?
Maya Angelou also said, “I believe Jesus Christ was the most courageous of persons because He dared to love.”
Maya Angelou’s belief in God and her knowledge that she was a child of God gave her the courage and confidence to accomplish great things with her life. The Bible tells us that God gives all of His children strength and courage to do great things with their lives. Psalm 56:4 says, “In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” 1 Chronicles 28:20 says, “Be strong and of good courage… fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee…” And Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Would you like to have the same courage to step out by faith and accomplish something significant with your life as Maya Angelou did? This faith and courage starts with you becoming a child of God. You can become a child of God by believing on the Son of God, Jesus Christ, for salvation. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Bible also says in John 1:12 that “as many as received [Jesus Christ], to them [God] gave the power to become the sons (or children) of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
This verse shows us two steps to becoming a child of God: First, to receive Jesus Christ; and, second, to believe on Jesus Christ.
Receiving Jesus Christ implies that He has offered Himself for us and offered something to us. When He came to this earth in the form of a man 2,000 years ago, He offered His life as a sacrifice that would satisfy God’s wrath for our sins. When Jesus died on the cross, He took the sins of the whole world on Himself and suffered our punishment from God for those sins in order that He might offer us God’s forgiveness for our sins, salvation from our sins and the punishment of sin, and eternal life with God in Heaven. Second Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus was made “to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Jesus Christ willingly sacrificed Himself on the cross for us because He loved us and did not want us to have to suffer eternal separation from God because of our sins. Maya Angelou said, “I believe Jesus Christ was the most courageous of persons because He dared to love.” We are the beneficiaries of Jesus’ love for us.
The second condition to becoming a child of God is to believe on Jesus Christ. To believe on Jesus Christ is to place your faith and trust in Him for salvation. It is abandoning yourself to the reality that only Jesus Christ can save you from your sins and the punishment of sin. And it is acting on the realization that the only way you can become a child of God is through putting your faith and trust in Him.
Are you ready to receive the free gift of salvation and believe on Jesus Christ so that you can become a child of God today? If so, you can take action right now. Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Pray this short prayer with me, and mean it from your heart, to seal your decision with God today:
Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and I want to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God and congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your new found faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
Believe by faith. Share the faith. And keep the faith! God Bless You!